One often finds the following proposition asserted: God has created humanity as free beings and has thus bound himself not to interfere with their free decisions and choice. Divine agency and human agency are conceived as mutually exclusive. In one form or another we find this proposition commonly advanced in discussions of synergism, providence, theodicy, and eternal damnation. Please raise your hand if you have invoked the principle yourself.
The underlying image is that of a stage. God has created the stage and the human players, yet once having created them, he stands back, as it were, and lets the players live out their lives in freedom. But there is a problem here. The image is deistic. It forgets that not only has God created both the stage and players, but at every moment he is conferring existence upon them. In some sense, therefore, God must be the ultimate author of free human decisions and actions. If he weren’t, they wouldn’t exist at all. God neither respects nor interferes with our free actions; he creates them. Think upon that for more than a few seconds. Think long enough and you may even find yourself entertaining a theory of double agency.
If we take the creatio ex nihilo seriously, we will find ourselves wrestling with all sorts of challenging, perhaps intractable, problems. Hugh McCann discusses some of them in this interview with Robert Kuhn.